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Corporate Scholarship Programs with a Direct Return on Investment

Businesses subsidize higher education for individual students that would enter the company workforce in the future

Photo of Curtis Leister
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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

Underclassmen college students, or even high school seniors.

Let's be honest- the point of an undergraduate degree is to gain the necessary skills and experience to be marketable for a desirable job in the future. What if corporations who wished to focus hiring on youthful, entry-level talent subsidized higher education costs through scholastic workforce partnerships to gain an inside edge on hiring the same young professionals when they graduate?

To understand value of a college degree to both employees and employers, here are the key needs of both parties in the process:

1) College students desire a degree that shows diligence and skills from coursework to show prospective employers they can bring value to the business. 

2) Employers desire talented college graduates with these necessary skills to bring youthful energy and different perspectives to generate profitable solutions for their company. 

The companies described in my second point can close this gap by subsidizing the necessary degrees from my first point through scholarships for students who are college sophomores, freshmen, or even high school seniors that display prospective skills that match company needs.

These programs act as future investments from a company perspective- by gaining the partnerships of talented college students through funding higher-ed, the companies provide college funding, then internships, then full-time offers as the students progress through college years. 

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

-Survey companies to gauge interest on starting underclassmen scholarship programs that lead to future employment through internships and full-time offers. These underclassmen would be already receiving financial aid or other scholarships. -Experiment with mock recruiting techniques, and ask companies to choose a hypothetical figure to fund per each student. -Program can be scaled by using businesses schools to pitch the idea to companies who recruit, starting with a few and adding more.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

-Business human resource employees could comment on the feasibility of "hiring" underclassmen for future employment. How receptive would HR be to this idea? -College advisors and recruiting coordinators could provide advice on the benefits and drawbacks of early student pipeline programs through funding. -Everyone could provide feedback on the skills we would've demonstrated when we were between 18-20 years old and how we could provide value to a company at that age.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Izabela Correa

Hi Curtis Leister and team. Thanks for sharing this idea. I'm glad that my research post was an inspiration for it. I really believe this model can work. In Brazil, there some similar programs. In one of them, the government pays you to study public administration (in Brazil we have free higher education) and after you have to work two years for them.

I only have a few questions: what would happen if the student decides to not work for the company? Or if he/she decides to drop out college? And in case of the student graduates during a crisis and the company won't be able to hire him/her? I have some ideas/suggestions about these points, but I would love to hear the team before.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great provocations Izabela! It's helpful to take into consideration how students will fulfill their long-term commitment to a sponsoring company after graduation. 

Curtis, it'll be interesting to explore how companies may setup up social impact scholarship funds to support future talent in a particular industry - with less future commitments. On a related note check out Grant Stouffer 's Wheel of Funding idea:

Photo of Curtis Leister

Izabela, very good questions! This would work like any job offer; a company would present  standing offer, and the student could have a designated time to accept. Because this could happen over the course of a few years of undergraduate school, the company could schedule biannual meetings and short interviews to check in on the thoughts and progress of the student's aspirations. 

As for times of crisis, companies will have to determine to prioritize these entry level programs. I have a few roommates who have accepted job offers with oil companies in a rough patch for the oil market. Though many of these companies have cut jobs, they have also decided to prioritize the entry level development programs to keep and maintain this young talent. Every company is different, but that will be up to the company's discretion and will have to weigh the benefits and consequences themselves. 

Photo of Curtis Leister

Shane, thanks for bringing Grant Stouffer 's idea to my attention! Though the more specific functional practices for the ideas are different, it looks like we have similar goals and general designs for corporate sponsorship and funding of student education. 

Photo of DFA NYU

Thank you for clarifying these points Curtis Leister . Looking forward to hearing about the next steps!